Fast, good to drive, well-priced
Bit too mature for a Mini JCW?
What is it?
Facelifts are usually accompanied by minuscule power increases - maybe 10 or if you’re lucky 20 horsepower, if anything at all. The revised Mini John Cooper Works Clubman is, therefore, quite unusual. Because even though it looks largely the same as the old one, it has almost a THIRD more power and torque.
That’s down to a new engine - the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged motor as the new BMW M135i and soon-to-be-revealed Mini GP. So where once you got a measly 228bhp and 258lb ft, you now get 302bhp and 332lb ft. Predictably, this increase has had a profound effect on performance - the 0-62mph time is down by 1.4 seconds to 4.9s, while the top speed is up from 148mph to a limited 155mph.
This is good news. The old car (which we drove for the first time in 2016) was a bit odd, insofar as it was priced to compete with other all-wheel drive hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf R and Audi S3, but was way down on power. Its new engine puts the JCW on terms not only with the Golf and S3, but the new 306bhp Mercedes-AMG A35.
At £34,250, the JCW is a little over £2,000 more than the old automatic JCW (you could get a manual for less, but this new one is auto only). But still reasonable value, given it’s marginally but usefully cheaper than the £35k A35, £36k Golf or £37k S3. Odd - Minis are normally the expensive ones.
Besides the engine, the JCW gets the same mid-life updates as the rest of the range. All relatively minor - think new head- and tail-lights, different bumpers and upgraded infotainment.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
This is the engine the Clubman JCW should always have had. The new car is quick, decent to drive, well built and surprisingly well-priced alongside its key competitors. And now it’s got some proper breathing room over and above the Clubman Cooper S, to which it was arguably too closely matched before. With the new engine onboard, it’s now very much on the same page as the Merc, Audi or VW. Still the maturest Mini - it’s just a pity it isn’t as playful or interactive to drive as you’d hope a JCW would be.